With just 14 regular-season weeks in the fantasy realm, every Sunday is important.
But Week 6 presents an opportunity for teams on the cusp. If you're sitting at 3-2, a win essentially gives you the inside track toward a playoff spot. At 4-2, playing .500 ball the rest of the way gets you to seven or eight wins, locking you into a playoff spot.
If you've crawled back to or fallen to 2-3, reaching that .500 mark is essentially your only hope of reaching the playoffs. Falling to 2-4 means you'd need a 5-2 finish to have any real postseason chances.
That makes Week 6 huge. And that's why we're here.
Without further adieu, let's get into it:
Kamar Aiken, WR, BAL (@ SF) - The Baltimore Ravens wide receiver situation is a mess. Steve Smith is questionable, Michael Campanero is on IR and Breshad Perriman isn't returning anytime soon. Regardless, Joe Flacco has to throw to somebody, right? Enter Aiken. The third-year wideout out of UCF has registered nine catches for 155 yards and a touchdown in his last two games. Those numbers should increase against the NFL's 28th ranked fantasy defense against opposing receivers. Aiken may not be a household name, but he's a solid flex play this week. (Scott Krinch)
Travis Benjamin, WR, CLE (vs. DEN) - It's time to stop considering Benjamin's performance in 2015 just a hot start. Though he hasn't scored since Week 3, Benjamin is racking up targets and finds himself in a Browns system that's clearly to his liking under Josh McCown. Yes, waiting for him this week is Aquib Talib and Chris Harris. But the Browns are fifth in the league in passing yards (!) and ninth in attempts. Playing from behind has its benefits in fantasy football, so while I don't expect Benjamin and the Browns to pull off the upset, Cleveland's top wide receiver is going to see volume and production. You have to keep him in your lineup. (Mark Strotman)
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, MIN (vs. KC) - No matter your league scoring, the Chiefs are one of the cushiest matchups a QB can get in fantasy, allowing multiple passing TDs in four of five weeks and at least 250 passing yards in all five games. Bridgewater hasn't yet found his fantasy groove, but he's a good bet to get right this week. Plus, I know so many of you are desperately searching for a QB to replace Brandon Weeden on a Bye, so figured I'd help ease your mind a bit. (Tony Andracki)
John Brown, WR, ARZ (@ PIT) - The ghost of Larry Fitzgerald resurrecting itself has really hurt Brown's production, but we're starting to see the sleeper we all thought he'd be. He caught seven balls in Week 4 and found the end zone in Week 5. Now facing an average Steelers defense I expect the league's highest scoring offense to spread it around, and the means a nice day from Brown. Toss him in your lineup as a high upside WR2 this week. Reaching on him in your draft is about to pay off in the next week or two. (Strotman)
Jay Cutler, QB, CHI (@ DET) - Normally I'd recommend approaching Cutler with extreme caution. This isn't one of those weeks. We all know Cutler has his deficiencies. He's going to give the ball up at least once almost every game. But right now his production with limited weapons is eye-popping among fantasy circles. In his last two weeks Cutler has posted respectable fantasy totals of 17.2 and 17.6 points. A date with the miserable Lions defense and an expected return of at least one of Alshon Jeffery or Eddie Royal has all the makings of Top 10 QB numbers for Cutler this weekend. (Krinch)
Eric Decker, WR, NYJ (vs. WSH) - Decker has been in Brandon Marshall's massive shadow this year but has quietly produced. He's caught a touchdown in every game he's played in this year and is averaging around six targets a game. The Redskins secondary is banged up, and the Jets love to look at Decker, who now is healthy, in the red zone out of the slot. Expect a solid FLEX performance from Decker this week so make sure he's back in there. (John "The Professor" Paschall)
Ronnie Hillman, RB, DEN (@ CLE) - The Broncos absolutely have to figure out their run game and the sooner they're able to, the better for Peyton Manning and that awesome defense. They'll have a good chance to get all their ducks in a row against a Cleveland defense that ranks 29th at limiting fantasy RBs and I'm betting Hillman is the Bronco that will break out with the biggest game. (Andracki)
T.Y. Hilton, WR, IND, (vs. NE) - Hilton hasn't found the end zone yet this year and he's surprisingly not even a Top 30 WR in fantasy this year. I'm betting that changes this week with a decent matchup, Andrew Luck's presumed return and just the fact that Hilton is too good a receiver to be denied big fantasy days on a consistent basis like this. (Andracki)
Allen Hurns, WR, JAX (vs. HOU) - Just keep the momentum rolling for this Jaguars offense. Hurns has been a big play machine for a Jaguars team that hasn't won much this year. Blake Bortles is coming off a monster game and there's no reason why he can't keep it going against the train wreck that is the Houston Texans. With a Jaguars offense that could be without T.J. Yeldon, expect Bortles to throw more and Hurns to be one of the beneficiaries. (Paschall)
Lamar Miller, RB, MIA (@ TEN) - So Joe Philbin is out, and in comes a member of the Dolphins' offensive staff (tight ends coach Dan Campbell). That can ONLY mean we're going to see more production, or at least touches, out of Miller this week, right? I sure hope so, and it's why I'm starting him this week in Tennessee. His touches in Miami's first four games went: 14, 15, 10, 8. I expect closer to 18 or 20 as Miami looks to reinvent itself. It's risky, but give Miller a look in your FLEX and hope that a new staff means new production from the third-round back. (Strotman)
Torrey Smith, WR, SF (vs. BAL) - If you've been reading our start/sits in the past, you know I'm a big fan of the revenge game. I feel a bit better about Smith this week because the 49ers offense didn't embarrass itself last week against the Giants. Smith will want to prove to his old team that he was worth the big money and the Ravens secondary isn't exactly the group to stop him. Get Smith in your FLEX spot this week. (Paschall)
Shane Vereen, RB, NYG (@ PHI) - Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo finally used Vereen in the passing game and the results were impressive. The former Patriot hauled in eight passes for 86 yards and a touchdown. Vereen is a capable flex player as long as he sees targets, and all signs point to that trend continuing. With Rueben Randle and Odell Beckham Jr. both banged up heading into a Week 6 matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles, expect Vereen to be heavily involved in the passing game on Monday. (Krinch)
Travis Benjamin, WR, CLE (vs. DEN) - Who had Benjamin as a Top 10 fantasy wideout going into the 2015 season? Probably not even his own family. Benjamin has been targeted at least 10 times in each of his past three games in the now high-octane Browns offense led by journeyman quarterback Josh McCown. His sudden rise to stardom is startling and maybe he'll keep it up, but I'm betting against him this weekend. The Broncos defense is on a ridiculous run right now, and have only allowed one touchdown to an opposing wide receiver this season. Benjamin won't be the guy pushing that number to two. (Krinch)
Jeremy Hill, RB, CIN (@ BUF) - Hill is the 20th-ranked fantasy running back right now, but can anybody really make the case that he's a must-start this week, even with RBs like Lativus Murray, Doug Martin, Todd Gurley and Joseph Randle on Bye? Hill is simply too inconsistent, scoring multiple TDs in two games this year, but finishing with less than three points in the other three contests. He hasn't received more than 12 carries since Week 1 and Gio Bernard looks like the better back in Cincy right now. Combine that with a tough matchup against a solid Bills run defense and Hill is a must-sit for me this week. (Andracki)
Carlos Hyde, RB, SF (vs. BAL) - Last time one of us recommended sitting Hyde it didn't go so well. I'm confident lightning won't strike twice though. Hyde, currently the No. 7 ranked fantasy running back because of his Week 1 outburst, draws a tough matchup against the Ravens this week. Baltimore has allowed just two rushing touchdowns and only one player, Le'Veon Bell, has reached the century mark against them this season. I don't envision a less-than-100-percent Hyde doing much damage in Week 6. (Krinch)
Chris Ivory, RB, NYJ (vs. WSH) - The Redskins defense doesn't get talked about enough. They're actually having a pretty solid year, especially against opposing running backs. Devonta Freeman and the Falcons RBs just combined for 26 points against this Redskins unit, but prior to that, Washington had given up just 35 standard fantasy points in four weeks to RBs, an average of only 8.75 a week. Ivory is a risky play this week, even if he should be fresh and healthy coming out of the Bye. (Andracki)
Andre Johnson, WR, IND (vs. NE) - It was nice to see Johnson have a big week against his former team. Some owners may think he's finally got it going. Well, not so fast. I think part of it was the fact that he was playing his former team and now it seems like Andrew Luck could be coming back. Normally that would be good but Johnson hasn't done anything this year with Luck in. I'm expecting the garbage time yards and points to go to Moncrief instead of Johnson this week. (Paschall)
Chris Johnson, RB, ARI (@ PIT) - I've done a double-take each day this week when I've glanced at the NFL's leading rushers. It's 2015 and Johnson is somehow the league's No. 2 rusher with 405 yards. Johnson is running like this is his last opportunity in the league, and it's paying dividends for his career and the first place Cardinals. It's hard to tell if his sudden resurgence is real, but this is one week I'm going to stay away from CJ2K. He's got a touch matchup against a Steelers defense that hasn't given up a rushing touchdown this season. Streaks are meant to be broken, but I'm not placing any bets on that happening in Week 6. (Krinch)
James Jones, WR, GB (vs. SD) - We talked on the podcast about how well this week matches up for Eddie Lacy, but Jones and the GB WRs are not as lucky. The Chargers are the No. 2-ranked defense at limiting opposing WR fantasy production, surrendering an average of just 15 points per week. Jones has been very good all year for the Packers, but he's dealing with a hamstring issue and this is going to be a tough week for him to find the end zone or put up a ton of yardage. (Andracki)
Peyton Manning, QB, DEN (@ CLE) - Only Matthew Stafford has thrown more interceptions than the NFL's all-time leading passer. Worse, his six touchdown passes leave him behind 15 other players. It'd be one thing if Manning was taking chances that resulted in scores more often than interceptions, but he's not. The volume is still there - he's fifth in the NFL in attempts - but you simply can't trust him not to kill you with more turnovers at this point. There's a real chance we've seen the last of a dominant Peyton Manning. I can't even trust him against a porous Browns defense. Life in 2015 comes at you fast. Bench Chicken Parm until he shows us anything.
Donte Moncrief, WR, IND (vs. NE) - Well, it was fun while it lasted. Andre Johnson wasn't going to toss up goose eggs forever, and you get the feeling that Johnson's confidence is on a serious high after his two-touchdown performance against his old team. And no, I don't think it had anything to do with Matt Hasselbeck throwing him the ball. With Andrew Luck back in the fold, Johnson takes on No. 2 duties and that leaves Moncrief as a dangerous play with certainly high upside, but a pretty low floor as well. If I'm flipping a coin, I stay away from him this week against a tough Patriots defense. (Strotman)
Denard Robinson, RB, JAX (vs. HOU) - Shoelaces! While it's nice to see him back, I don't know how good he will be this week in what will likely be a starting role. Yeldon hasn't practiced all week and may sit out, and Robinson hasn't exactly been that healthy either. I'm guessing the Jaguars lean more on Bortles arm than Robinson's legs so I'm not a fan of him this week in fantasy. (Paschall)
Golden Tate, WR, DET (vs. CHI) - Tate saw a ridiculous 18 targets last week from Stafford/Orvolsky and I still don't like him this week against one of the league's worst secondaries. Simply put, keep all Lions not named Calvin Johnson out of your lineup. This team is a mess.
Charcandrick West, RB, KC (@ MIN) - It was an all out war for him on waivers this week. He's likely to get the majority of the touches for the Chiefs with Jamaal Charles out now but it's just not a great opening matchup for him. The Vikings defense has quietly been very solid against the run and should load the box and make Alex Smith beat them through the air. It could get ugly for the Chiefs who were a mess last week after Charles went down. Don't expect it to get much prettier this week for West and the Chiefs. (Paschall)